Friday, April 21, 2006

Fidei Defensor

On this auspicious day, it might be considered by some to be the wrong time to raise questions of constitutional significance, reliant as they are on questions of the succession. Such delicacy does not occur to Madeline Bunting who questions whether the monarchy in its current form could survive the Queen.

There are two points to raise here: one general and one specific. In general terms the complaint seems to be: the monarch is the head of the Church of England - is this fair in a 'multi-cultural society'? Or as Bunting herself puts it: How will that go down in a country where the number regularly attending Anglican services is roughly matched by the number of British Muslims?

To which the simple answer is: Who cares how it goes down? This is an explicitly Christian country at the very base of its constitution. If this is to be dismantled it would have to be for a better reason than the feelings of a million or so recent arrivals. As Alexander Downer said, if they don;t like it, they can fuck off (well that's nearly what he said).

The second point is one that has been raised before. Prince Charles famously said that he wanted to be a 'Defender of Faiths', and Bunting raises the topic of tweaking the official title, but on whose bally authority? The title Defender of the Faith was awarded (ironically) to Henry VIII by the Pope in recognition of a spirited pamphlet denouncing Martin Luther that the King had written (in flawless Latin too apparently). So if it is to be changed, what would be the authority? If it be only the sayso of the British Government then what on earth is the point in having it at all?


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